As we saw in the previous Post, grit is persistence with resilience. Since grit is a mixture of a lifestyle rooted in self-efficacy, proper support and guidance, and an ability to take consistent focused action, the following six guiding principles –which complement the previous five principles we talked about last month– should help you attain your goals while increasing your grit factor!
1) Ask experts, be inspired by mentors, have a coach. When we invite mentors, teachers and coaches to guide us and push us –sometimes gently and compassionately, many times firmly and beyond our comfort zone– and allow ourselves to benefit from their expertise and skills, will greatly accelerate our learning process. Everyone (or about) who has accomplished a level of excellence in his/her life acknowledges that there is a village of people that helped him/her achieve success. Experts, mentors and coaches are among the most influential people within that village! The sooner we identify them and let them influence our growth, the faster we’ll achieve our goals. If we are serious about achieving a new level of excellence in a specific area of life, we owe it to ourselves to get the support and expertise needed. None of us can do so alone, especially when it relates to reaching excellence. The dividends are well worth the efforts!
2) Consistent daily rituals: people who have grit and achieve a level of excellence all have daily rituals, which focuses on increasing their skills. Their consistent daily rituals prevent them from having to renegotiate with themselves if today they will, or not, practice and work at bettering their craft. Sunshine or rain, winter or summer, they just do what they committed themselves to do, and don’t budge from it. People with grit just do it! When this attitude is adopted for years on end, for long-term goals, results ensue!
3) Surround yourself with other gritty people: When we find the people who share in our dedication towards excellence, who encourage us to persevere when the going gets rough, who support us when we are at the edge of reaching a new milestone but doubt we will ever get there, we have our gritty tribe. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who are willing to push through and keep at it, whatever the “it” is for each member of our tribe, is a gift we give ourselves, and our community. By so doing, we become the best version of ourselves, and support others to do the same. Aligning ourselves with others who persevere and refuse to be victimized or give up by setbacks tremendously increases our odds of success.
4) Consistently have something where your grit is challenged and reinforced. Duckworth’s research shows that parents who encourage, and often require their child to have not only one, but two extra curricular activities –in whatever field the child feels passionate about or drawn towards (sport, music, art, community services, etc.)– greatly increases the odds that their child will be highly successful later in life. Interestingly enough, people with similar high SAT scores and schooled in ivy-league Universities often differ greatly in level of achievements later in life. Research shows that the tenacity needed to excel at extra-curricular activities, while also excelling in school, seems to explain the discrepancy. To this point, students who had the greatest “grit score” were 60% more likely to stay in college instead of their counter-parts who had low “grit scores”, whom were more likely to drop out of college. The culture within these families also encouraged everyone, parents included, to actively participate in at least one activity, which requires consistency, perseverance, and pushing the boundaries of excellence. Mrs. Duckworth calls it, “The Hard Thing Rule”.
- You must consistently do at least one thing, which is hard to do.
- You can’t quit until you’ve completed the commitment you made. No quitting on hard days or because it’s too hard.
- You get to pick your hard thing, no one else picks it for you because it’s your thing which interests you, and for which you’ll be responsible to show improvement.
Bottom line, choose your passion, or an activity which could eventually transform into a passion, and go for it, at least for a full year, two is preferable, and give it your best!
5) Give and ask for passionate support: Gritty people don’t succeed by doing it alone. They have different forms of support and they ask for it. This is most important when it comes to children and people trying to find something in life they could become passionate about. Early interests and passions are often ill defined and fragile at first. Sticking with them often requires passionate support from outside forces. And for those who would like to reinforce their grit factor but don’t really know where to start, just keep in mind that interests are not just discovered by introspection. They are discovered and reinforced by interaction with the outside world. Try new things and give yourself a chance to stick with them for a while. Maybe what was initially “just something to do” will turn into something you’ll love to do more and more. Maybe it will eventually become a passion of yours. Either way, it will reinforce your grit factor!
6) Higher purpose: Duckworth gives three examples to depict this point. Three bricklayers are asked to describe their job. The first one says that he is a bricklayer and that it is how he makes a living. The second says that he is building a house. The third one says that he is building the house of God. In other words, people who take on challenges they believe will benefit the greater good of others, whether it is how they make a living, or it is their contribution to a calling are often more willing to push through the challenges they face. Whether they have more grit to begin with, or build grit as they pursue their goals, or both, the mere fact of having a higher purpose increases their grit factor!
Now that we have eleven ways to increase our grit factor (read the previous Post for the initial five ways and to take the test), let’s go out into the world and live a life filled with passion and perseverance!